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Kinetic art pioneer Gyula Kosice dies at 92

Artist Gyula Kosice, founder of the avant garde Madí group, poses with one of his artworks.
Artist Gyula Kosice, founder of the avant garde Madí group, poses with one of his artworks.

One of the first artists ever to use water and neon gas in his works

Gyula Kosice, the Hungarian-born and naturalized Argentine sculptor, plastic artist, theoretician and poet, who was one of the most prominent pioneers in kinetic art died yesterday in Buenos Aires at the age of 92.

Kosice figure is an unavoidable cultural benchmark not only in Argentina's cultural field but also across the international art scene.

Always at the forefront in plastic and sculptural movements, Kosice was the first artist to ever use water and neon gas as part of an artwork in 1946. He was, by then, also the founder of the avant garde Madí group, an artistic movement that started in Argentina and Uruguay in the late 1940s and aimed to join together painting, music, sculpture, theatre —any artistic expression— to extend their limits.

Among his most impressive pieces, Kosice was the creator of hydraulic sculptures which used water and light as their fundamental elements. He is also the father of an “urban utopia”. He is renowned for Hidrospatial City, reasoning “man is not to end his days on Earth,” as he once wrote.

The prolific artist was born in 1924 by the name of Ferdinand Fallik near the border between Hungary and the former Czechoslovakia in the small village of Kosice, the name he later decided to use for his artistic career.

At the age of four he came to Argentina where he was raised by his uncle. In many interviews Kosice recalled that a book about Leonardo Da Vinci he read in his childhood what inspired him to adopt his later vocation.

He held more than 50 individual exhibitions as well as more than 500 collective ones, some of them held in very prestigious venues, such as the Di Tella Institute in the 1960s in Buenos Aires, and the Pompidou Centre in Paris in 2013. For that special ocassion, he stayed for six months in the city where he was honoured for his 70 years of contribution to the cultural scene. One of his most recent exhibitions was held at Tecnópolis in 2014.

But fine arts weren’t the only field in which Kosice stood out. Throughout his vast career Kosice has also published 15 books of essays and poetry. He was the founder of Arturo magazine, where he wrote many of his famous art manifestos.

Like many other creators, he was deeply concerned about his work being spread through the sales to private buyers or donations to museums. In his early years he looked for a place in which his works could be always exhibited and carefully maintained.

In 2005 his wish came true and he opened his own private museum, after having refurbished part of his old workshop located on Humahuaca street, in Almagro neighborhood, where there are exhibited more than a hundred of his pieces.

His artwork can also be found at the Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes (Fine Arts Museum) and private collections in Argentina, Latin America, the United States, Europe and Asia.

Kosice was distinguished Lord of the Arts and Literature by the government of France, and named Honorary Citizen of the City of Buenos Aires, among other honours.

During its last edition last April, BAFICI (Buenos Aires Festival Internacional de Cine Independiente) paid tribute to Kosice’s legacy.

The Panorama sidebar showcased the documentary Kosice hidroespacial, a tender tribute by Gabriel Saie, in which art curators and critics voice their views on the artist’s most remarkable pieces and Kosice himself traverses his life and reflects upon many aspects of his personality.

Herald with Télam, online media

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